Sophie Johnson

Public Relations MA

After many successful years running her own PR agency in London, Sophie returned to BCU as a lecturer to share her industry experience about the world of fashion. She never expected to undertake a Master's, but working at BCU made her realise she wanted to explore the area further and excel at tutoring. 

“I’m currently a lecturer at BCU, for the BA (Hons) Fashion Business and Promotion course. In 2011 I opened my own PR agency in London, specialising in fashion PR, celebrity placement, social media, influencer marketing and event management. In September 2019, I began my MA to apply theory to the practice I had already carried out. I decided that a postgraduate degree would not only expand my knowledge and give me a broader academic underpinning, but would also allow me to explore areas of public relations away from fashion to gain varied skills and expertise.

I never expected to undertake a Master’s, however working as an academic it seems the next suited fit after gaining my postgraduate certificate in Higher Education. I did my MA full-time, as there was no part-time option, whilst also continuing my job full time. This was a huge commitment but I knew that a solid year of studying would benefit my career in the long term. It meant lots of pre-planning and time allocation for work, but ultimately a year on it’s the best thing I have ever done. My department and line manager were incredibly supportive allowing me time to complete this, too. They saw the direct impact of my further education on my module development and expertise for student benefit.

At first I was rather dubious about studying again after eight years of completing my BA. I was also nervous about being a member of staff in the same institution, however I really enjoyed the range of people I studied with and didn't expect to make friends for life like I did! I expected everyone to be really young, fresh from BA degrees, however there was a great mix of ages, backgrounds and some amazing International students from all over the world. I also enjoyed meeting all MA students across the School Of Media through the collaborative modules, I met some great colleagues and great peers.

My Master’s degree has helped me make an academic career choice between research and enterprise and I would most definitely love to continue my studies and do a PhD. My core passion is fashion PR, however postgraduate studies have allowed me to explore other sectors. For my dissertation I stepped away from fashion to further explore the value of public relations in the ‘Not For Profit’ sector, allowing me to add more strings to my bow! I also really enjoyed the work placement opportunity.

I have found myself with a new air of confidence. Lecturing in my field, it’s a challenge to stay relevant through keeping up your practice but also having an academic underpinning. Most of all I learnt what it is like to be a student again, which helps me engage even more with my own cohort of students. I know the struggles and the challenges it brings, so I feel I can offer even more support. I am proud to say I completed my MA degree, whilst lecturing full time, buying my first house and adopting two dogs.

I am BCU, through and through. I will be proud on my graduation day to complete my third qualification at Birmingham City University, and hope to complete my PHD with BCU too.”

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